One of the most common questions on google about chiropractors, is whether or not they are considered “real” doctors. For those who are new to chiropractic care, chiropractors are physicians in the health care community, that specialize in rehabilitating any musculoskeletal injury, as well as occasional neurological conditions, such as a disc buldge or sciatica. A musculoskeletal injury is when damage to parts of the body, made up of muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bone occur. They are commonly treated with rehabilitation, spinal manipulation, and exercise. In order to become a chiropractor in New York state, you must have a 4 year undergraduate degree, with credits in microbiology, biochemistry, physics, and anatomy. Following receiving a bachelors degree, you then must complete 3 and a half years, or 4,620 education hours in a Doctor of Chiropractic program. A 4 part national boards exam is then taken to receive certification to provide chiropractic care anywhere in the country.
In total chiropractors in New York have gone through 7.5 years of education, as well as a 4 part national boards exam. When comparing a Doctor of Chiropractic program, to a Medical Doctor program, there are many similarities. Course loads require extensive knowledge of the bodies, anatomy, biochemistry, and pathology.
There are, however, a few differences. Once a chiropractor has completed the base line knowledge of how the body works, they then begin to learn how to treat the body through chiropractic care. These treatments include, but aren’t limited to spinal manipulation, nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise. Doctors of Chiropractic learn how to take x-rays. read x-rays, request MRI’s, and interpret blood work. Medical doctors however, are schooled in pharmacological methods of treatment, for all body systems, not just musculoskeletal conditions.
So when asking whether chiropractors are “real” doctors or not, the answer is much more subjective than a black and white, yes or no. Chiropractors are heavily educated in how the body works, over 7.5 years, with the knowledge, and the ability to help a variety of spine and extremity pain. It is up to the patient to find a reputable chiropractor they can trust. Like every other profession, no two professionals are created equal.